Tighter cultural norms frown on women as leadersMarch 9th, 2012 - 1:16 pm ICT by IANS
Toronto, March 9 (IANS) Countries strictly upholding cultural norms are more likely on frown on women as leaders - unless those norms support equal opportunities for both sexes, says a new study.
“Cultural tightness can prevent the emergence of women leaders because tighter cultures may make a society’s people more resistant to changing the traditionally-held practice that placed men in leadership roles,” said Soo Min Toh, professor at the University of Toronto’s Rotman School of Management.
Cultural tightness is described by Soo, who co-wrote the study with Geoffrey Leonardelli, an associate professor at Rotman, as the “degree to which norms are clear and pervasive,” the Journal of World Business reported.
Tight cultures have a lower tolerance for deviation from cultural norms and may even impose sanctions for doing so. Loose cultures tend to be more open to change and experience higher rates of change than tight cultures, according to a university statement.
Among 32 countries compared, New Zealand, Ukraine and Hungary - all culturally loose countries - showed a high rate of female leadership, while Pakistan, South Korea, and Turkey - considered culturally tight - were low.
“But when it comes to the emergence of women leaders, cultural tightness can have an advantage too. Cultural tightness may also be a helpful instrument because in societies where men and women are treated equally, tightness could more strongly implement and sustain practices that encourage the emergence of women leaders,” said Leonardelli.
Norway is a case in point. While the Scandinavian country is considered culturally tight, it also highly emphasizes gender equality practices and showed a high rate of female leadership.
Researchers used an academically-compiled index of countries’ cultural tightness and a separate index on their treatment of gender equality, and World Bank statistics on the percentage of leadership positions filled by women, such as legislators, senior officials and managers.
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